3100 Topics in Indigenous Literature

ENG3100HS    L0101    

Cinema of Refusal: Inuit Modernity and Visual Sovereignty    

Kamboureli, S.   


Course Description:  

This course will focus on how Inuit cinematography refuses settler colonialism by affirming and demanding recognition of Inuit agency. Employing narratives (oral and written) but focusing primarily on films (feature and documentaries) by Isuma and Arnait (Women’s Video Collective), both based in Igloolik, Nunavut, we will engage with what constitutes these Inuit production companies’ cinema of refusal: from its critical engagement with a range of ethnographic and other archival material to its decolonizing documentary ethos; from its simultaneous appropriation and critique of western modernity to its assertion of Inuit modernity and self-determination; from its tactical refusal of subtitles to its community-based production. To better appreciate how the Inuit cinema of refusal can be understood as an enactment of Inuit “visual sovereignty” (Michelle Raheja) in relation to land, we will study these films in dialogue with a small selection of oral and written Inuit stories that directly address Inuit modernity. Our discussions will situate these visual and verbal texts in the context of Indigenous methodologies, specifically Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit traditional knowledge and ways of knowing), and related film and critical studies.

Course Reading List:

Isuma films: The Journals of Knud Rasmussen; One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk 
Arnait films: Tia and Piujuk; Uvanga 
Texts: Knud Rasmussen, Across Arctic America
Germaine Arnaktauyok, My Name is Arnaktauyok: The Life and Art of Germaine Arnaktauyok 
Norma Dunning, selections from Tainna and Annie Muktuk
Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk, Sanaaq 
Saqiyuq: Stories from the Lives of Three Inuit Women (Selections) 
Critical Material:
From The Oxford Handbook of Indigenous American Literatures, ed. Daniel Heath Justice et. al. 

  • Margery Fee, “Decolonizing Indigenous Oratures and Literatures of Northern British North America and Canada” (559-576) 
  • Keavy Martin, “The Sovereign Obscurity of Inuit Literature” (15-30) 
  • Dean Rader, “Reading the Visual, Seeing the Verbal: Text and Image in Recent American Indian 
  • Literature and Art” (299-317) 
  • Christopher Teuton, “Indigenous Orality and Oral Literatures” (167-174) 

Amagoalik, John. “Reconciliation or Conciliation? An Inuit Perspective,” Speaking my Truth: Reflections on
 Reconciliation and Residential School
, eds. Sheila Rogers et. al. (35-43) 
Garneau, David. “Imaginary Spaces of Conciliation and Reconciliation: Art, Curation, and Healing.” Arts of 
Engagement: Taking Aesthetic Action In and Beyond the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
, ed. Dylan Robinson and Keavy Martin. WLUP 2016. 21-41. 
Igloliorte, Heather. “Curating Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit: Inuit Knowledge in the Qallunaat Art Museum,” Art 
, Kate Morris and Bill Anthes (eds.). College Art Association, Vol. 76, No 2, Summer 2017: 100- 113.
____, and Carla Taunton. “Introduction: The Path Before Us: Generating and Foregrounding Indigenous Art 
Theory and Method.” In The Routledge Companion to Indigenous Art Histories in the United States and Canada. Ed. Heather Igloliorte and Carla Tauton. Routledge 2023. 1-17. 
Kaganovsky, Lilya, Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerstahl Stenport, eds. Arctic Cinemas and the Documentary 
, ed. Indiana UP 2019. 
-Kaganovsky, Lilya, Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerstahl Stenport. “Introduction: The Documentary Ethos and the Arctic.” 
- Ginsburg, Faye.” Isuma TV, Visual Sovereignty, and the Arctic Media World.” 
Karetak, Joe, Frank Tester and Shirley Tagalik. “Introduction: Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit: What Inuit Have Always
Known to Be True.” Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit: What Inuit Have Always Known to Be True. Fernwood 2017. 1-19 & notes 237-39. 
Martin, Keavy. “Arctic Solitude: Mitiarjuk’s Sanaaq and the Politics of Translation in Inuit Literature.” Studies in
 Canadian Literature
____, “‘Are We Also Here For That?’: Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit – Traditional Knowledge, or Critical Theory?” The 
Canadian Journal of Native Studies 29, no. 1 and 2, 2009, pp. 183-202. 
McGrath, Janet Tamalik. The Qaggiq Model: Toward a Theory of Inuktut Knowledge Renewal. Nunavut Arctic
 College 2018. 

  • “Introduction” 7-13 
  • “Language, Beingm Inquiry” & “The Qaggig Model” 189-98 
  • “Inuit Methodology: Making Something Together” & “Interpersonal Inuktut Methodology” 204-12 
  • “Indigenous Methodologies” 242-49 
  • “The Qaggiq Model” 293-302 

McKegney, Sam. “Strategies for Ethical Engagement: An Open Letter Concerning Non-Native Scholars of Native 
Literatures.” Studies in American Indian Literatures, 20, 4 (Winter 2008), 56-67. 
Raheja, Michelle. From Reservation Reelism: Redfacing, Visual Sovereignty, and Representations of Native Americans in Film (U of Nebraska 2010). 
- “Toward a Genealogy of Indigenous Film Theory: Reading Hollywood Indians” 1- 45 and “Visual Sovereignty, Indigenous Revisions of Ethnography, and Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner),” 190-220 
Simpson, Audra. “The Sovereignty of Critique.” The South Atlantic Quarterly, 119, 4 (October 2020), 685-99. Stern, Pamela and Lisa Stevenson, eds. Critical Inuit Studies: An Anthology of Contemporary Arctic Ethnography.  U of Nebraska P 2002. 
- Stevenson, Lisa “Introduction.” 1-22 
- Pamela Stern, “From Area Studies to Cultural Studies to a Critical Inuit Studies” 253- 66. 
Wachowich, Nancy. Saqiyuq: Stories from the Lives of Three Inuit Women, in collaboration with Apphia Agalakti 
Awa, Rhoa Kaukjak Katsak, and Sandra Pikujak Katsak 
- Apphia Agalaki Siqpaapik Awa: 
“My Ancestors, My Family” (18-20); “I will tell you about my marriage” (36-41); 
“Gone out to Trade in Igloolik” (59-60); “Ataguttaaluk” (68-72); 
“The time that were baptized” (84-6); “Shifting Winds: The first time we ever lived with quallunaat around us” (103-12). 
- Sandra Pikujak Katsak: 
“Most people just call me Sandra” (212-215); “The first time I remember camping” (216); “The day my father’s younger brother died” (216); “My first impression of the south” (217); “Mary and I, we grew up close” (217-18); “When we were out on the land” (218-19).

Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements 

Term: F-TERM (January 2025 to April 2025)
Date/Time: Thursday 10:00 pm to 1:00 pm (3 hours)
Location:  TBA

Delivery: In-Person